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Did you under-invest in your investment banking interviews?

posted Jul 4, 2011, 1:25 AM by Alex Wong   [ updated Jul 19, 2012, 11:54 PM ]

Have you ever counted the hours you invested in a 3-credit core course that comes with exams, projects and presentations throughout a semester? It could easily go over 50 hours. But did you invest 50 hours in all the job/scholarship/exchange interviews combined in the past semester?


If your answer is yes, congratulation. You are among the small group of people who at least got the mindset right. There are a lot more to take in order to get a good job offer but at least you stand a high chance. Practice always makes perfect.


If your answer is no, take this article as a wake up call. You are competing with students who answered yes to this question and very rarely, you are able to beat students who are very well-prepared.


During my years of experience as an interview coach, particularly for investment banking applicants, I see huge difference between prepared applicants and unprepared applicants. The former ones answer every question perfectly as if they expected these questions. The latter ones make me feel that they are just like other hundreds of candidates who will get a rejection letter few weeks later.


Interview preparation can be more extensive than you can imagine. One of my students started to plan his career path in year 1 and he already got the big names like UBS, Mckinsey on it. Another one spent 2 hours everyday for a year to get updated with global economics and market news and he could talk like a trader.


The most successful student I have seen had a list of 100 past interview questions specifically for the division he is applying to. He prepared answers to all these questions, conducted mock interview with friends, sought advice from alumni in the industry for all these answers, and repeated the process again and again. It was a 6 months project for him. In return, he got 4 offers, all from top-tier investment banks.


At the end of the day, this is your career we are talking about. It’s going to affect how you live the rest of your life, who you will be associating with and most importantly, who you will become. It’s worthwhile to invest more than 50 hours per semester.


Terrified and worried? Don’t be! There are always support from friends, family, school and alumni and many other channels. Let’s get things started before it is too late!